New paper:

Increased flow speed on a large East Antarctic outlet glacier due to subglacial floods

Stearns, L.A., B.E. Smith, G.S. Hamilton
Nature Geoscience
, 1, doi:10.1038/ngeo356, 2008


Key Points:

1. Byrd Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in East Antarctica, underwent a sudden and         short-lived acceleration (of ~10%) between 12/2005 - 2/2007.
2. The acceleration extended along the entire 75-km glacier trunk and its onset coincided         with the discharge of about 1.7km3 of water from two large subglacial lakes located             about 200km upstream of the grounding line. The deceleration coincided with the flood         termination.
3. Our findings provide the first evidence that an active lake drainage system can cause             large and rapid changes in glacier dynamics.
4. One implication of this work is that the addition of even a small amount of water to the         bottom of a glacier can cause significant acceleration. While the changes taking place on     Byrd Glacier are not caused by climate-driven processes, they highlight the sensitivity of     glaciers to small changes at their bed.